09 Feb 2014

Science vs. Religion: Framing Effects

Religious 152 Comments

I saw this photo floating around Facebook; I am pretty sure it was originally posted to an Atheism group:

As a former atheist, I totally understand where this is coming from–and why the atheists on Facebook thought it was great. But I want to point out that the stuff on the right doesn’t flow from “science” at all.

Indeed, some (not all) atheists wear the “depressing” mantle of science as a badge of honor. They’ll say things like, “Christians have never recovered from the blow to their pride, when science taught them that the earth isn’t at the center of the universe, or that man is no more ‘special’ than a slug.”

And yes, there are aspects of Christianity for which the left hand side has some justification, but Christianity also teaches that everyone is a child of God, every aspect of which–down to the individual hairs–was deliberately designed as part of His perfect plan. Furthermore, we are so lovable that God sent His only Son to die for us, so that we could spend eternity with Him.

The people who think Christianity makes you feel crappy about yourself should come to my church in Nashville and listen to the opening music.

152 Responses to “Science vs. Religion: Framing Effects”

  1. Adrian Fiorito says:

    Professor Murphy,
    I am still at a loss to understand why this ‘perfect plan’ consists of suffering, salvation, etc. Every action we undertake is to better our circumstances. Why would a father put obstacles in front of his children to hinder their happiness?

    And if that’s not all someone needs to tell God that we prefer to be saved in the present than to wait for future salvation

    • Gamble says:

      Hi Adrian,

      What would life be without free will?

      James 1:13

      13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        What would life be like without the ability to choose evil, but the ability to choose among practically infinite possible goods?

        Why couldn’t God create a universe like that?

        • Innocent says:

          Okay First, God exists. I am a Christian, I have studied religion(s) for a large portion of my life. I point this out because the things I am now going to talk about are going to seem heretical to the religious and to those that are atheist it most likely will sound like no relation to what they have heard about God before. Please note this is information I have drawn through my studies, I am more than happy to be ‘wrong’, to be called names, and to be honest I am fairly used to it so Cheers, to all those who disagree, I got it, I understand, and I totally know what it is like to be skeptical of things. In point of fact the reason I came to the knowledge that I believe I have has been through being skeptical but not allowing that to stop me from attempting to understand God, this life, and religion in general. I do not seek your approval and am happy to accept your disdain. I will attempt if you wish to explain myself better as words are a poor choice for communication but they are all we have.

          First God did not create the universe He shaped it. This is a fundamental flaw in understanding God. God does not ‘ignore’ science He uses it. An all powerful God is all Powerful because He knows all, not because He forces His will on others or on other things because He has will, but rather He does it much the same way a potter influences clay, He simply does it perfectly. He is the perfect Scientist.

          Pain, suffering, destruction, violence, all these things exist independent of God. In point of fact most ‘destruction’ is visited among mankind via choices that we make. Now what if we could not ‘choose’ evil. Where there is no choice there can be no growth. Growth is the name of the game when it comes to God at least in my experience thus far.

          What is the end game that God has in store for us His children? Well let me ask you this question. If mankind could not die, and lived forever, what would we be capable of? How much knowledge and understanding could we, simple mortals, attain given enough time?

          I place before you that given enough time there is nothing that humans could not learn, nothing we could not ‘know’, nothing we could not ‘do’.

          So if God is God because He knows all things and if, given the correct circumstances so could ‘people’ and we are His children, then to what end will we attain ourselves?

          Yes I know both atheists and Religious people are probably calling me blasphemous at this point but I am simply postulating a line of thinking that after having known God for some time now has ultimately lead me too a shocking conclusion as to the purpose and possibilities of life. Again attack as you will I doubt it is something I have not already heard but go for it.

          Now I would also suggest that this life is both meaningful and meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Just as each day of your life can be full of meaning or it can pass by you without anything really occurring. The question is what purpose does this life ultimately serve? I would suggest that since in this life we cannot gain ALL knowledge, and in fact God has arranged things to ensure we don’t, that there is a different purpose to this moment of life, not that attaining knowledge is not important but just like I do not care when a child learns to read only that they do learn to read, ( For instance one of my children figured it out at the age of four, the other at the age of six ) I would suggest it is the same with God and ourselves, that given enough time we will learn. Therefore this life is granted us to learn something deeper than ‘facts’.

          Okay I have had my daily dose of being a heretic. Let me end by saying that the sacrifice of Christ, from all that I have learned, in some way makes all the stupid, idiotic, and horrible things we do on this Earth ‘not count’ for those that follow Him. Imagine someone who has an infinite supply of money comes to you, a businessman deeply in debt because of a bad choice and pays all the debt. God has not told me how this ‘works’, or exactly why it needed to be that way. Perhaps someday He will explain it in a more rational way to me… Who knows.

          So how to know if what I say is ‘true’. Well I would suggest that just like any science experiment you need to find out if what I suggest is ‘true’ God has created a wonderful mechanism for finding these things out. Prayer and the ‘Holy Spirit’ being the two that I have found to work the best and then a great deal of thought and work on your end to attempt to understand. Just as calculus is a high level of learning from the simple addition of 1 + 1 = 2 so to can spiritual learning take time effort and a great deal of patience. Go to God yourself but do not simply ‘ask’ without thought. Ask with effort and purpose behind that effort and you will be rewarded.

          Knowing God has changed my attitude to people. I look at them very differently than the above picture. Eugenics is the science point of view of people. That they are things, rather than a potential of something incredible. I think the view I have offered and Understanding of God changes how we will treat one another.

        • Matt Tanous says:

          He could have. And this universe would not contain any beings with free will. The ability to choose to harm others is a necessary “bug” when talking about free will.

          The alternative is drones forever slaves to God’s will, at least to some degree. Omnipotence does not imply the ability to make a logical contradiction reality in a universe constrained by logic.

    • Matt Tanous says:

      “Every action we undertake is to better our circumstances.”

      Ours, as individuals. Not collectively. A murderer kills to “better his circumstances”.

      “Why would a father put obstacles in front of his children to hinder their happiness?”

      As CS Lewis put it, “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” And the “obstacles” that exist to bar us from this were not put up by God, but by individual man.

  2. Benjamin Cole says:

    Nice post.
    As an athiest I confirm atheism has shortcomings…the whole mortality issue…
    The complaint in the photo, however, is a lopsided broadside against all religion and not modern Christianity…the influence of Islam is thought-provoking and not uplifting…
    I envy those with faith…sometimes fear those with faith..

    • Cosmo Kramer says:

      Totally agree. I went to church when I was young. I just never actually believed what I was hearing. I am very skeptical. But, I totally envy those that have something to look forward to after death.

      • Matthew Doss says:

        I’m assuming you mean “heaven” you say “have something to look forward to after death.” My question to you, and others, is did Jesus ever say the word “heaven?”

        My ultimate question is, do Christians actually have “something to look forward to after death” or are we suppose to make the most of it while we are alive? What did Jesus teach us?

  3. Major_Freedom says:

    “…but Christianity also teaches that everyone is a child of God, every aspect of which–down to the individual hairs–was deliberately designed as part of His perfect plan. Furthermore, we are so lovable that God sent His only Son to die for us…”

    This does not, in any way, make me feel either full of wonder, nor smart, nor a great learner, nor beautiful, nor having a potentiality of greatness. It does not make me feel happy. It does not make me feel good about myself.

    It is depressing to believe every aspect of me is pre-planned by another consciousness. It is even more depressing to believe that someone was tortured and killed for the sake of me or anyone else.

    If religion was ONLY about musical harmonies, then your last sentence would be a reasonable counter-point to the list on the left. But after the song is finished, children are still taught the crap on the left.

    Why not just buy or download the music, and leave everything else?

    • Gamble says:

      Hi Major,

      My Bible tells me we have free will…

      “It is depressing to believe every aspect of me is pre-planned by another consciousness.”

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Hi Gamble, my Bible has oodles of contradictory statements, and my Christian friends make oodles of contradictory statements.


        1. Free will.

        2. “…every aspect of which–down to the individual hairs–was deliberately designed as part of His perfect plan.”

        These two cannot both be true.

        • Gamble says:

          Hi Major,

          The Bible will never be rational or make “sense” to you. The entire concept of Christianity is based on faith. Jesus is personal and the Holy Spirit works in ways not easily understood. There are times I Read the Bible and it makes perfect sense, fits perfectly, guiding light. I reread the same passage 5 years later and it means something entirely different but the Bible is always there . It does not surprise me, you cannot make head nor tales.

          Specifically regarding Bob and hairs and free will. The passage never says we do or do not have free will. The perfect plan part is wee bit overblown by many Christians. This implies it is all destiny, pointless, robots. I say wrong. Heck Calvin’s do not even think you choose salvation, rather salvation chooses you, lol. There are thousands of Biblical examples that ask us to make a choice, face consequences, hence free will.

          4“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Hi Gamble,

            “The Bible will never be rational or make “sense” to you. The entire concept of Christianity is based on faith.”

            You heard it here folks. What I have been saying all along. Makes no sense, must have faith instead, i.e. abandon reason, must be afraid of the idea of what could happen in “the afterlife.”

            I wonder if you are going to get a RomerOnKrugmanesque gag order.

            • Gamble says:

              So what. Every Christian understands faith. The Bible mandates faith. You can not be a Christian without faith.

              I never said I worshipped the false idol of reason.

              I am not afraid of the after life, I know where I will be.

              I do not need to gag anybody. Words only offend the unthinking.

              Speaking of faith and reason, atheism and evolution requires more faith and less reason that Christianity ever did…

              • Bharat says:

                False idol of reason? No one is saying you have to worship reason, but you surely must have a reason for believing the things you believe. Why be a Christian rather than a Muslim? Do you have any reason for that? If your answer is “faith,” why have faith in the Christianity rather than Islam? “Faith” begs the question.

                When you make absolutist statements like “the Bible will never make sense to you,” you are essentially saying “the Bible will always appear irrational to you.” This is the wrong way to approach nonbelievers. The Bible should be logically coherent and noncontradictory whether or not a person can understand everything within it. I think you’re trying to say the latter while everyone, at least MF, is interpreting you as saying the former. A person not being able to fully understand something (as one would think of what Christians believe to be the word of God, the BIble, or God himself, would be) does not mean it must appear irrational to him, nor that it is actually an inherently irrational thing.

              • Anonymous says:

                Hi Bharat,

                I don’t thin the Bible has any contradictions. I use to, before I had faith and guidance from The Holy Spirit.

                MajorFreedom does constantly harp on what he perceives as Bible contradictions. I know where he is coming from, the Bible can appear to have many contradictions.

                Faith is the first step, not logic, not reason. Those come later, once you accept Gods Sovereignty.

                Yes I have reasons why I am a Christian, not a Muslim. Yes I have reasons , but none of them will ever be good enough for Major Freedom, I get it. Sometimes reason is not what you need…

              • Major_Freedom says:

                “So what. Every Christian understands faith. The Bible mandates faith. You can not be a Christian without faith.”

                Faith is just another way of saying abandoning reason. It is illogical and contradictory, but I believe it anyway because faith.

                “I never said I worshipped the false idol of reason.”

                OK. But to be clear I never said you did. False idol? Why is it “false”? If the approach is “faith”, then falsehoods are not sufficient grounds for rejecting it.

                “I am not afraid of the after life, I know where I will be.
                I do not need to gag anybody. Words only offend the unthinking.”

                I am not afraid, but it’s annoying to have to listen to Christians and other theists trying to make me afraid for being atheist.

                “Speaking of faith and reason, atheism and evolution requires more faith and less reason that Christianity ever did…”

                And up is down too.

            • Keshav Srinivasan says:

              Major_Freedom, I’m not Christian but I doubt that Christianity preaches fear of the afterlife. Hinduism tells you do to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because of the rewards you’ll get in the afterlife. I imagine Christianity isn’t much different in this regard.

              • Ken B says:

                Are there rewards and punishments in the afterlife in Hinduism?

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Yes, there are. But those rewards and punishments are not supposed to be your motivations in doing the right thing.

              • Ken B says:

                Like all politicians I just want to serve. I’m not in it for the power, fame, money, or ego.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                I’m not denying that people often have all sorts of bad and selfish motivations for their actions. I’m just talking about what their motivations ought to be.

              • Ken B says:

                Odd that faiths never rely on that. There are always consequences. Pour encourager les autres.

              • Major_Freedom says:


                “Major_Freedom, I’m not Christian but I doubt that Christianity preaches fear of the afterlife.”

                I used to be a Christian, and I can tell you that fear of the afterlife is one of the core principles. Eternal punishment, torture, fire and brimstone, yadda yadda yadda. Theists have to make people afraid of the afterlife in order to affect their actions in this life. If there was no eternal punishment for not believing in God, then it would be a much more difficult sell. Religion goes through evolution just like ideas do. Those religions with the most fearful punishments tend to make their way to the front, because people are less likely to be persuaded by religions that don’t have that fear. Theists have to continually up the ante when it comes to fear, to brainwash people into taking notice of it and being affected by it.

                “Hinduism tells you do to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because of the rewards you’ll get in the afterlife. I imagine Christianity isn’t much different in this regard.”

                It is.

              • Ken B says:

                No, it isn’t, but for a reason exactly opposite to what Keshav asserts. Hinduism too is bolstered by rewards and punishments. Both faiths, like my politician, psy lip service to unalloyed gooness. But both are built on invigilation.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B, humans are actors, including the Bible’s authors. Goal seeking. The whole point of Biblical morality is to gain a reward in heaven and avoid punishment in hell.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Major_Freedom, Christianity certainly talks about fire and brimstone and the like, but do you have any quotes from the bible that say that the reason to do good is just the consequences you’ll face in the afterlife? I think the average Christian would say that even if God gave you a special guarantee that you’d go to Heaven, they’d still think that you ought to follow the laws of the Bible. That’s not to say that they’d actually follow them, of course, but they’d still think they ought to.

    • integral says:

      To be fair, there’s absolutely nothing that makes me feel the things you describe in your post.

    • Andrew' says:

      Wait, you are really saying the 4 year old’s chart is accurate?

  4. Enopoletus Harding says:

    I, as an atheist, am disgusted by the picture as well. There is nothing particularly atheistic about delusions of grandeur and there is nothing particularly theistic about perspective and appraisal of flaws.

    • Gamble says:

      What is sad is a parent of any label would put thoughts into a child’s head. I have always allowed my kid to make up his own mind so long as he keeps his hands to himself.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        “What is sad is a parent of any label would put thoughts into a child’s head.”

        POOF goes Christianity.

        • Gamble says:

          Why so? You cant just say something and pretend it is true.

          I was reborn at 19 years of age and my parents were nowhere in sight. They are still non believers.


          • Major_Freedom says:

            Christianity calls for parents to put Chriatian thoughts in children’s heads, indeed everyone’s heads.

            If it is wrong for parents to put thoughts into their children’s heads, then it is wrong to put Christian thoughts in children’s heads. Pretty sure Christianity would not survive.

            • Gamble says:

              I am called to witness, that is all.

              This is not the same as putting thoughts into ones head.

              Like I said, I give my kid information as I give you information, you have to decide for yourself what you believe.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                What is not heard in the Christian household:

                Child says “I don’t think there is a God.”

                Christian parent says: “Whatever you want to think little Billy.”

            • Gamble says:

              1 Corinthians 2:5

              so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power

              2 Corinthians 5:7

              We live by faith, not by sight

              Hebrews 11:1

              Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

              Ephesians 2:8

              For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

      • razer says:

        Religion can’t survive if its not pounded into children’s heads before they have the ability to reason. You think you can convince adults of talking snakes, a guy who lives in whale’s stomach for 3 days, the story of Jonah’s arc, etc.? Only children will believe such nonsense, and once you got the child, you have him for life. Religious teachers know this, which is why it’s so important for them to target children.

        • Enopoletus Harding says:

          Mostly true. Churches are like tobacco companies in this respect.

          • Ken B says:

            Well, tobacco is most dangerous to its adherent. Religion is the reverse.

        • andrew' says:

          Is this what science boosters “understand” also?

      • Harold says:

        Does keeping his hands to himself include inanimate objects? Just wondering if he is allowed to make his own mind about poking that fork in the toaster.

        The problem with not putting thoughts into a child’s head is that it precludes not just Christianity, but all sorts of morality. I think it is probably important to teach children to behave in particular ways, and it can’t only be done by example.

        • Gamble says:

          That toaster is not his property and he does not have my permission to damage it. But yes he makes his own toast.

          • Harold says:

            “But yes he makes his own toast.” Well, it does depend on the age of the child! You did say always, so presumably there was a time when he didn’t make his own toast.

            • Gamble says:

              Yes there was time when he did not make his own toast .

              I lost your point, care to refresh?

              • Harold says:

                Something about grilled bread-based products. Can’t recall myself now. Think I will go and have some toast.

        • Ken B says:

          This is the real problem with Dawkins’s point. It’s wrong to teach kids crap. If we had a crap oracle we’d be set, but we don’t. So policing the crap parents teach is problematic. You can only even attempt it with some hope of success for outlier ideas, not mainstream religion. So even if you like the idea you can’t do it enough to really matter. Allowing debate and education is better, if imperfect.

  5. Ken B says:

    I quite agree.

    Plus in general I dislike using kids this way, like in protest marches.

  6. Ken B says:

    I’m intrigued by the church music reference. I listen to vast amounts of religious music. I never pegged you for a music lover, with the karaoke videos and all.

  7. cee-oh says:

    If this picture was supposed to be presenting a contrast, it failed on several accounts, not least of which is the ambiguity of the terms “science” and “religion”. That, however, is not the reason for this post.

    Quote: “Christianity also teaches that everyone is a child of God.”

    I have heard this phrase quoted many times in my life, and have used a similar phrase (“We’re all children of God.”) myself. There may well be some sects of “Christianity” that teach that “everyone is a child of God,” but this is not biblical, that is, according to the Holy Bible.

    As was pointed out to me a number of years ago. It is true, according to Scripture, that we are all part of His creation, however not everyone is a child of God.

    Here are two Scripture passages that imply that not everyone is a child of God:

    1) John 1:11-13

    2) Romans 8:12-17


  8. Cody S says:

    If Little Girl was, in fact, smart, she might not let her mommy write moronic cards for her to hold up to a camera. Hopefully, she will quickly learn how stupid her parents are. And then, potentially, tell them about themselves. That would be both wonderful, and beautifully ironic.

    Because believing in a god is stupid, but thinking that “Science” loves you very much is effing brilliant.

    • Gamble says:

      Yes and potential for greatness is not the same as greatness. So really they have admitted to the need of Savior or something more.

      Full of wonder? Sounds like Bible not concrete objectivism.

      I bet most trained atheist would not claim this chart.

      These photo people are run of the mill God haters, not much more.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      I wonder how angry you get when theistic parents take their children to church, and telling them what to believe, instead of letting them think for themselves.

      I am guessing that you would say “Children have to be taught, they can’t think everything for themselves.”

      • Cody S says:


        You are certainly free to guess that.

        I would perhaps personally have preferred parents who believed in a benevolent sky god and treated it as such, to parents who claimed to be “religion-free”, and then treated an inanimate process of hypothesis-checking through experimentation as a benevolent sky god. Special brand of imbecility, that.

      • andrew' says:

        Oh, so not telling kids what to believe is on the table?

        How bout just that whoever gave that cute girl that card lied about everything on it?

      • Gamble says:

        I don’t get angry when anybody or any stripe takes themselves and their children to church. At the end of the day all of those people, adult and children have a choice to make. Do they accept the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ? Do they have Faith?

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Woah, you Gamble, who is citing biblical verses and promoting the Bible, don’t get angry when parents take their children to church? I’m shocked.

          What about if parents take their children to institutions that teach God is a myth and not “out there” as an objective concept?

          • Gamble says:

            “What about if parents take their children to institutions that teach God is a myth and not “out there” as an objective concept?”

            I don’t get mad at you, rather, sad for you but at the end of the day, it is your life and your afterlife. I know where I am going.

            You see, Ayn Rand and her marry band are really nothing more than godless communist with a slight inclination for boot licking, and you are proving this.

            • Keshav Srinivasan says:

              You think Ayn Rand is a communist? I’ve heard people call her a fascist, insofar as she thinks society’s wealth ought to accrue to the titans of industry, but never a communist.

              • Gamble says:

                Not communist in the strict terms of Karl Marx and redistribution of wealth but in terms if collectivist mandates such as no religion. What ever happened to each his own? Live and let live?

                She also advocates a mythical limited government, which apparently opened the door to all sorts of evil. I only advocate limited government so that once we get there, maybe we can asses the situation and decide to go all the way. Self government.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                “Not communist in the strict terms of Karl Marx and redistribution of wealth but in terms if collectivist mandates such as no religion.”

                You mean atheist.

                So by communism you mean atheist.

                Communism is an economic system, characterized by collective, i.e. government, ownership and control of the means of production. There is no religious position implied there.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Gamble, did Ayn Rand advocate that religion should be banned, or simply that it’s a bad thing? Would saying that lying is bad (without advocating a ban on lying) constitute a violation of “live and let live”?

            • Ken B says:

              What about teaching kids that the resurrection was a lie, Jesus never died on the cross and that Chritians faked their scriptures?

            • Ken B says:

              You misjudge MF. He’s an ex communist. He used to support man oppressing man, but now he supports the reverse.

              • Gamble says:

                That is funny.

                “He used to support man oppressing man, but now he supports the reverse.”

              • Major_Freedom says:

                No, I support an elimination of man oppressing man, by supporting the only property ethic consistent with individual liberty.

                You on the other hand support man oppressing man, through a majority rule state. 51% oppress the 49%.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B:

                What you identify in my ethics as “oppression” is really a removal of the ability of oppressors to oppress. I understand that it makes you feel oppressed, not to benefit yourself via oppression of others. But feeling oppressed doesn’t mean you are being oppressed.

              • Major_Freedom says:


                Notice that Ken B did not actually spell out how I support man oppressing man. He won’t dare attempt to explain it, because he knows he’ll look foolish in trying.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              “I don’t get mad at you, rather, sad for you but at the end of the day, it is your life and your afterlife. I know where I am going.”

              I know where I am going. I’m going to an absolute end.

              “You see, Ayn Rand and her marry band are really nothing more than godless communist with a slight inclination for boot licking, and you are proving this.”

              ^ ^ ^
              LEFT FIELD

    • Enopoletus Harding says:

      Good point!

  9. ThomasL says:

    I suppose it is nitpicking at some point, but Wonder belongs to the /philosophy of science/, not science proper and Beauty belongs to aesthetics. This should be quite obvious and uncontroversial. How precisely would you make Wonder or Beauty the object of rigorous scientific investigations by the scientific method even if that were what you really, really wanted to do?

    The others are equally pointless. You are a great learner… OK, so compared to person X you learn things Z faster–so what? What does it *mean* to have learned something? You can show using scientific means that given person A can learn subject X faster or slower than person B, but you cannot use the tools of science to tell me what the ultimate meaning or purpose of learning anything is. And so forth, and so forth…

    • Tel says:

      I would argue that beauty and wonder do not have objective definitions, and science (by design) cannot be used to approach subjective issues. It might be possible to find biological evidence that certain things will tend to attract the interest of certain creatures (for example symmetric features have been observed to be attractive in a mate) but this is not universal, it’s merely observed amongst the small sample of observations we have on Earth.

      • ThomasL says:

        Well, I think Beauty is not wholly subjective. But the objective nature of Beauty would be the domain of philosophy, not science.

  10. Peter says:

    So I guess “- No more special than a slug” should be added to the “science” side of the board….

    If this is some sort of promo for atheism, I guess this one is not doing it for me.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Science teaches us that we are more special than slugs.

      • Ken B says:

        Some of us Major, some of us.

        • Richie says:

          Your trolling of Major_Freedom is getting tiresome, and your jokes are quite lame.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            I’ve said it before and I think it bears repeating:

            I purposefully use a style that gets people just a little bit perturbed and heated, because I find that helps people think the most honestly and clearly, notwithstanding whether they are right or wrong.

            In Ken B’s case, you will see that he makes comments that suggest that deep down, he has “dehumanizing others” tendencies. He already has one step in the door towards totalitarianism. He lacks power however, which is why his ideas are not directly resulting in harm to myself or my family.

            If you notice, every statist has the same dehumanizing tendency. Some humans are more human than other humans. Some humans are less than human. Less than human humans deserve to be harmed and taken advantage of by more than human humans.

            I suspect Ken B is making fun of others most of the time because of a need to distract himself from the reason why he dehumanizes others. One word: Projection.

      • Tel says:

        What is the scientific definition of “Special”?

        What units do you measure it in?

        • integral says:


        • andrew' says:

          If you are a grad student studying slugs you Know the score. Hard to quantify, easy to know.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Special ultimately just means distinct.

          Science teaches us that humans, even myself individually, are distinct from slugs.

          What units to measure unique concepts? Existants. One existant, two existents, three existents…all unique, but we are capable of making a single mental picture that includes them all.

          • Bharat says:

            Peter said “No more special than a slug,” not “Special as compared to a slug.” I think there’s a difference. The second is how you interpret it, and the word “special” here means distinct. Consistent with this second interpretation, the sentence could be phrased as “humans are not distinct from slugs,” which is clearly false as you point out.

            The first, however, means that on a certain scale of “specialness,” a human is not any higher than a slug. I think what Peter is trying to say is that there is no objective sense in which we are better than slugs, from the point of view of science, and rephrased in this way, I would agree with him. For example, having a rational mind is not necessarily better than not having a rational mind, from the point of view of science (in its modern sense, of course). Saying it is distinct would be correct, but saying it is better would be arbitrary.

            • Peter says:

              I was merely re-quoting what was in Dr. Murphy’s post:

              They’ll say things like, “Christians have never recovered from the blow to their pride, when science taught them that the earth isn’t at the center of the universe, or that man is no more ‘special’ than a slug.”

            • Major_Freedom says:

              “The first, however, means that on a certain scale of “specialness,” a human is not any higher than a slug. I think what Peter is trying to say is that there is no objective sense in which we are better than slugs, from the point of view of science, and rephrased in this way, I would agree with him.”

              Well, I hold that there is such a thing as an objective ethics, and since ethics presupposes value judgments, and objective concepts presupposes scientific inquiry, it follows that I hold that science can indeed teach us “better” from “worse.”

              That I have reason and slugs do not, makes me and all other humans BETTER than slugs.

              • Bharat says:

                Are you saying objective ethics presuppose scientific inquiry in the sense of the natural sciences or the older, more general, version of science?

                I actually assumed the girl’s distinction had to do between religion and science as in natural science, but I might be wrong about that.

              • Major_Freedom says:


          • Bharat says:

            Ignore this sentence: “Peter said “No more special than a slug,” not “Special as compared to a slug.”” if it’s confusing and you think it just says the same thing. The two different interpretations is all I’m trying to point out.

        • Ken B says:


          Not a joke.

          • Tel says:

            I’m OK with the idea that humans have greater information content than a slug, and so too does a cloud of steam have greater information content than a block of ice. I don’t really accept that captures what most people think of as “special”.

            The third law of thermodynamics says that every day the universe gets a bit more “special” until the ultimate death by too much specialness. Doesn’t quite work.

            • Ken B says:

              Most people would be wrong.
              Life does weird things with information (and entropy) that rocks and pens do not. So do minds. So whatever else, information is at the heart of it.

              • Tel says:

                Most people would be wrong.

                That does happen from time to time.

                Depends on whether we are debating science or common usage.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This thread is missing imputations of present day scientific knowledge of the world to the ancients who wrote the Bible.

  12. Tel says:

    I think it would be more honest to say that according to Science I am:

    (1) equally meaningful whether dead or alive;
    (2) whatever I want to be, because my choice is good as any;
    (3) as a child more likely to survive if I please my parents.

  13. Teqzilla says:

    Science fetishists are such smug fakes. Who with a true appreciation for the value of science would say something stupid like science says my kid is beautiful and has potential for greatness? Science simply has nothing to say about your kids looks or how full of wonder it is. If you decide to throw your kid out a sixth story window science is not gonna chide you for it, all its going to do is tell you the force of impact

    • Andrew' says:

      On the smug fakes part, by way of analogy, when I went to the pinewood derby building workshop and I saw the regional cubmaster there with his derby cars my first thought was “oh, wow, that was nice of him to show up and help”

      But my second thought was “oh, wait, this is actually kind of weird. Hmmm”

      Then, second he stood up and started making a pitch for funding ‘BAM!” everything snapped into extreme bokey focus.

      The same thing happened when I couldn’t figure out the science fetishists or what I call boosters or groupies.

      “Oh, these people just want to win elections!” Bam. All is clear now.

      • Andrew' says:

        Science jock sniffers would be another good one.

      • Andrew' says:

        Science cargo cultists would be in the running, except the problem there is that a lot of actual science is cargo cult science.

        A lot of what second and third tier scientists do ( I don’t know what top tier scientists do, I suspect they do it to) is try a lot of stuff and then build the narrarative around what worked. And this is fine, except for the part that it gives the casual observers the idea that the scientists knew what was going to happen a prior.

        But the science fetishists would likely argue with my characterization.of “fine” science as trial-and-error followed by hypothesis building.

  14. Teqzilla says:

    Oh, and as much as it may offend the sentimentalists, most of the supposedly disreputable claims in the religion column are not only true but obviously so. Of course kids are weak, dumb and flawed. Has this person ever interacted with a kid? They’re dumb as bricks and you can lift them one handed plus they’re nascent turds whose every natural inclination is towards selfishness and cruelty, inclinations which it takes years of parental to overcome at best with only mixed success.

    Look at babies. “Oh they’re so cute!” NO. They’re cuteness is an illusion born out of their being physcially incompetent to act upon their desires. If babies were man sized, with man level strength and motor reflexes you’d be scared to death of them.

    • Harold says:

      I love this description of kids. Science tells us that we needed to evolve the concept (or illusion) of cuteness so we care for the little nascent turds / bundles of joy.

      • Gamble says:

        You guys made me laugh, thanks. Kids definitely see themselves at the center of the universe. Some children never grow out of this false mindset…

  15. andrew' says:

    Why do people still pay attention to the science groupies?

    • andrew' says:

      And when a guy from Caltech calls me to babysit blow over with a feather. And most scientists can’t even do science.

      The only thing science told me about my kids was “don’t have them!”

      Bob, am I allowed to say “f**k those people!” On your blog?

      • Cosmo Kramer says:


      • Ken B says:

        Only if you are a Rothbardian.

        • Andrew' says:

          I find it funny that people get bent out of shape over text while we are coming up on our second lost decade. Now, Keynesians and MMTers might blame it on Austerians which is asinine on its face, but whoever is to blame- if someone is to blame- deserves a lot worse than disrespectful words.

          Likewise go read any blog from a psychology student, for example (for some reason there seem to be a lot of psychology grad school nightmare blogs). Anyone who is sticking up for what “science” does to the 85% or so of people who don’t end up as tenured professors deserve a lot more than disrespectful words.

          On the other hand, it’s Bob’s blog. I still find it funny. Just keep in mind, that to the extent someone can get bullied in comments, I’m not a good target.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            Well in Bob’s anarcho-paradise, people will be able to hire others to murder you for being rude in blog comments with no negative consequence whatsoever.

            Hey, did everyone enjoy my Ken B. impression?

            • Gamble says:

              Yes but then people would be able to hire others to murder the people you hired to murder the rude commentator, therefore persuading the murders to think twice before murdering…

            • Ken B says:

              No, they could face negative consequences. Bob would frown.

              And of course my family could hire thugs in turn. Then their families could hire mor thiugs. And there’s always DIY. This Hatfiled-McCoy stuff seems like a feature to you guys, but I’m just saying I think it’s a bug.

              • Gamble says:

                Well you have to compare one bug tot eh other bug. You know, those incredibly inefficient gangs dressed in blue with shiny badges. Oops, now they are dressed in black with full riot gear.

              • Ken B says:

                To you or me maybe. Not to MF. He’s for it no matter what the outcome. Not to any Rothbardian who fetishizes the so called NAP.

              • Tel says:

                This Hatfiled-McCoy stuff seems like a feature to you guys, but I’m just saying I think it’s a bug.

                When the great houses of Europe did it, for centuries, it was considered the height of civilized behaviour. When some American backwater does the same, it’s ha ha look at the hillbilly!

        • Major_Freedom says:

          So nobody on this blog then.

      • Tel says:

        The only thing science told me about my kids was “don’t have them!”

        Hopefully it wasn’t an evolutionary biologist who told you that. Sounds like something John Holdren would say.

        • andrew' says:

          No. It was literal. They (more or less) were saying it is hard so be devoted to science (the university) and have children.

        • Harold says:

          The university is not science.

  16. Bharat says:

    Well, I for one believe in the scientific law that Murphy is beautiful

  17. Sam Geoghegan says:

    The above photo is child abuse

    • Harold says:

      I disapprove of using children in propaganda in this way. I don’t think this crosses the line to abuse. Dawkins believes bringing up children in any form of religion is child abuse. By extension this would include telling children that god does not exist (although to be fair, it would not require telling a child that God did not exist for that child to fail to come up with Christianity for example). Whilst he may have a point, it probably does not do much good to label virtually all humanity as child abusers.

      • Andrew' says:

        Cool, but I’m a titular scientist.

        My big problem is parking, not how I spent a couple hours on Sundays.

        • Ken B says:

          I like titulars too, but I never knew you could study them scientifically.

      • Gamble says:

        On the flip side, if lack of salvation leads to eternal damnation, failure to expose children to Christ is the ultimate child abuse.

        I prefer a more balanced approach. I have shared a brief summary of all the major religions with my kid, I have also explained to him the political spectrum, parties, libertarianism, etc. Someday he will have to make up his mind, I can only give him information…

        • Andrew' says:

          Science education is better. Damnation only lasts a decade.

          • Gamble says:

            Not sure what you are saying? I was talking about an eternity separated from God.

            • Andrew' says:

              I’m talking about what feels like an eternity separated from poon.

              • Gamble says:

                What ever dude. Well anyways, you made me chuckle:)

        • Harold says:

          But then if not dying with a sword in your hand prevents access to Valhalla, perhaps failure to expose kids to war is the greatest child abuse. The key bit there is the if…

          This gives religious parents the belief that they are not abusing their child, since they honestly believe that to deny the word of God (or whatever) would be the worst thing they could do for their child. The atheist has no such excuse, and should not be telling their child that god does not exist – only that there is no evidence that he does.

          Overall I agree with the approach you describe. Nonetheless, there are some things we must tell our children are wrong, particularly when they are little.

  18. Cosmo Kramer says:

    According to science I am potential for greatness?


  19. RPLong says:

    Add me as one more voice in the choir of atheists who agree with Bob’s post.

  20. joe says:

    what makes you think she was talking about Christianity? She’s making a general statement about religion. Maybe she is talking about Islam. Maybe she is referring to Gary North’s religion which would require Civil govt to stone the girl to death (parents must participate) for a crime against Church govt. .

    Christianity teaches that everyone is a child of God, every aspect of which–down to the individual hairs–was deliberately designed as part of His perfect plan.

    Science has proven that the above statement is false which is why Christians do not like science.

    However, her statements about science are all false. Science doesn’t say that about anyone. Science consists of coming up with a theory to explain nature, conducting experiments to test the theory, analyzing the data and then modifying the theory.

    • Gamble says:

      I have no problems with science.

      [ s ənss ]

      1.study of physical world: the study of the physical and natural world and phenomena, especially by using systematic observation and experiment
      2.branch of science: a particular area of study or knowledge of the physical world
      3.systematic body of knowledge: a systematically organized body of knowledge about a particular subject

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Faith isn’t consistent with science.

        INB4 the self-contradictory “All of scientific knowledge cannot be known with certainty and must be based on faith.”

    • Andrew' says:

      Bob, am I allowed to say joe is a dumbass on your blog?

      • Andrew' says:

        Wait, I didn’t read the last part where joe steps out on a limb and calls out the 4 year old for getting science wrong. I take it back.

      • Ken B says:

        “Joe is a dumbass on your blog”

        I’m pretty sure joe is a dumbass everywhere.

        • Andrew' says:


          Now that someone else is getting to be rude I see the problem.

  21. Andrew_FL says:

    “Christians have never recovered from the blow to their pride, when science taught them that the earth isn’t at the center of the universe, or that man is no more ‘special’ than a slug.”

    Which demonstrates an ignorance of history. The idea of the Earth as the center of the Universe never meant it was in a special, privileged place. It meant it was at the bottom, the lowest, most base place in creation.

    I mean look at Dante’s Inferno: where does he put hell? At the exact center, of the center of the Universe. And the very center of that, frozen in the lake at the lowest level, is Lucifer himself, chewing on Brutus, Cassius, and Judas.

    According to Atheist History, Dante must have thought Satan was the most special thing in the universe.

  22. dave smith says:

    I don’t know about the dumb part, but the Bible does teach the other stuff. What is important here is if it the truth or not. If humans ARE sinful, broken and in need of redemption, you’d better pick up your Bible.

    As to the right side? None of that is incompatible with my religion.

  23. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    Even taking the picture at face value, I would absolutely say the right side is more damaging.

    I grew up in the first wave of the “self esteem generation” and let me tell you, it messes you up. I’m 28 and still struggling with the notion that the world doesn’t revolve around me, that I’m not owed anything, that human relationships require give AND take, etc.

    I WISH someone would have sat me down as a child and told me that I was a broken and flawed person, but that with hard work and sacrifice, I might be able to get better. It seems that these days, the clergy are the last people on Earth willing to say that to anyone.

    We’re not all “perfect just the way we are,” despite the fact that the entire world now seems to think we can make that true just by saying it enough times. Most of us are pretty far from perfect, and have a lot of work to do to even reach the level of “adequate.” This little girl seems destined to grow up as a spoiled brat, who will have a very tough reality check once she becomes an adult and realizes that her entire childhood was based on adults who should have known better lying to her about how the world works.

  24. Gamble says:

    Hi Major Freedom,

    The thread is hard to follow, so I want to reply to a few of your reply’s. You said communism is an economic system. Sure in the classroom sense. But collective thinking is the bigger picture. Take the Borg from Star trek. The Borg were not used by Gene Rodenberry to portray an economic system, rather a way of being that abolished the individual in favor of the collective. ” Resistant is futile, you must assimilate.” So I stand by my assertion that Ayn Rand trampled the individual much more that randians care to admit. It is right there, you just have to look at the obvious. She claimed to be the authority with the only correct way. Kinda like Jesus.

    Baharat jumped in our discussions and chastised me for incorrectly witnessing and portraying the Bible as a contradiction. If you look closely, I never said the Bible has any contradictions. I said the Bible is not what you think it is suppose to be. Unlike constitutions, the Bible is a living document and the Holy Spirit works in ways not easily understood by humans with finite knowledge. The Bible is there for you, when you need it, with what you need. I hate to use the word magical because of satanic connotations but the Bible is certainly awe inspiring.

    You said the entire point of The Bible is terrorizing people with threats of eternal damnation so as to control behavior and morals. Well you neglected repentance. Some of us Christians are not motivated by pure fear, rather awe, gratefulness, thankfulness and ultimately repentance.

    Regarding atheism and evolution requiring more faith and lack of reason than The Bible and creation. I admit creation as portrayed by common understanding of the Old Testament is a hard egg to swallow but on the flip side, so is evolutions and atheist theory’s of origin. You have to flat out turn a blind eye to the evidence. There are more unanswered questions than answers. Rock formations with layers that do no follow a time line. There is stuff just thrown in the layers, that atheist cannot explain, they simply ignore it. The examples are far to many to list here. My logic tells me to not ignore evidence so I can keep the narrative. Is this not what you are accusing me of, pot meet kettle.

    I know you pride yourself in have a debate style that provokes anger and furthers the discussion in the name of scientific discussion, yadda yadda yadda. After watching you in this thread, it is clear that the only anger is that which you have been hiding in your heart. I see that you say you use to be a Christian. Well my friend, you are still a Christian, God doe snot give up so easily. You have simply back slid, we all do at times, sometimes for years. I know I have. But I encourage you to come Home. You are forgiven, there is nothing the Saving Grace of Jesus cannot cover. Work this out with your own personal Jesus, He is not in your back pocket like some idiot Christians say, but He certainly has the ability to have a personal relationship with you… You guys can work it out. Come Home.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Gamble, with all due respect, you’re full of BS.

      1. It is not true that rock formations contradict evolution. In fact, the evidence for evolution is so strong, that there has never been a single case of evidence that contradicts what evolution predicts. You clearly just pulled that, and your unreferenced “examples of which are far too many to list”, out of zero reason and evidence.

      2. Regarding Rand, you continue to misuse the meaning of communism and collectivism. To assert that there is one true way, or one best way, is not equivalent to obliterating the individual, because the one best way can be pro-individuality! That is the direct opposite of collectivism. Now, if what you really mean to say but refuse or are unable to articulate is that because Rand was an atheist, and because she claimed her way was the right way, that you feel your individuality is threatened and as such, Rand must be advocating for collectivism after all, that is also a flawed interpretation of Rand. Theism is not incompatible with Randian ETHICS, provided of course it does not violate individual property rights. You are confusing Rand’s personal views about religion, with an alleged desire on her part to want to use force to stop you from praying and going to church. If you want to argue that because she was atheist her ethics cannot work for all individuals, be advised that she was not in favor of using force to stop otherwise peaceful religious behavior, so you don’t have to become atheist in order to live peacefully among Objectivists. Just don’t initiate force. As such, you don’t have to make ridiculously wrong comments that Rand was a communist if you want to voice your disagreement with her ideas.

      3. You never said the Bible has contradictions? Do you honestly believe that you’re being upfront? You did not say that the Bible is contradiction free. Combined with what you did say, which is that the Bible makes no sense, it is not unreasonable to suspect that you accept that the Bible has contradictions. Just admit it and stop tip toeing.

      4. Finally, we can go back and forth all day accusing the other person of being the bigger hater, the one with more anger, but your beliefs call for eternal pain and suffering of good people whose major “flaw” is not believing in the existence of a vengeful, spiteful, genocidal, sexist, egomaniacal, megalomanical bully who happens to be invisible. I know in my heart and mind who is more angry. It is you. That is why you are trying so desperately to appear as something else. It’s a reaction formation, derived from the hatred the Bible teaches you to feel, and having to cope with the world with that brainwashing.

      The Biblical story of creation isn’t just a hard pill to swallow. It is factually false. It makes claims about creation that have been refuted by scientific evdence. The response from theists in this respect is to claim that by 6000 years, the ancients who wrote the Bible really meant 4.5 billion years. The Bible is full of bigotry and hate. If you are entitled to reject X% of it because it is too inconvenient for you to accept 100%, then permit me to reject a different percentage and stop pestering me with posts that are too problematic to take seriously.

      • Gamble says:

        Okay Major,

        Hopefully someday you will realize I Was full of hate before I ever read the Bible. It was the Bible that taught me Love.

        How you only see 66 books of hate is beyond me…

        Peace out.

  25. Jon says:

    It would be weird if religion didn’t make people feel good, obviously no one would be religious if it didn’t. However, I’d say that it works in the same way that wearing makeup makes women feel good; because the companies that are selling the makeup keep implying that women ought to feel bad for not wearing it, of course women will become happier by buying the makeup.

    • Ken B says:

      Dog bites man, no shut Sherlock, quelle surprise.

  26. Anonymous says:

    She is not a beautiful and unique snowflake. She is the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all a part of the same compost pile.

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